Many across the faith community have spent the past week and a half lamenting the loss of historic murals and artwork in the Manti Utah Temple due to a need to reconfigure the rooms used for the endowment ceremony to accommodate more temple patrons. The murals are not just part of worship, but works of art worthy of preservation that form part of our cultural identity as a faith.
Public pressure campaigns don’t typically work out well for those seeking particular action by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so color all of us surprised that today the Church announced it has “intent” to “preserve the murals for future restoration and display in a public setting.” This is wonderful news for those (ourselves included) who understood the need to alter the floorplan of the temples but did not understand the Church’s reticence to announce any effort to preserve the cultural artifacts contained in the sacred buildings.
To be clear, the Church has not acknowledged that public outcry played a role in the about face, but it’s difficult to see how else it came to pass.
The updated statement on temple work says:
The artwork in the Manti Temple includes murals painted by Minerva Teichert, which are valued not only for their beauty, but also as a treasured remembrance of the faith, talent and dedication of the artist.
The Teichert murals in the Manti Temple were originally painted on canvas, which was adhered to the plaster walls. The Church’s intent is to separate the canvas or portions of the canvas from the plaster and preserve the murals for future restoration and display in a public setting. We are seeking the advice of international experts in the field of art preservation during this process.
This is great. We can acknowledge the need for temples to evolve to make sacred ordinances available to more of God’s children, but we can also recognize the value in preserving our history. Or as the popular meme goes: